Seatbelt Signs

When is the realistic time to turn on and off the seat belt sign?

I like to turn it off when I’m passing through FL100. I like to turn it back on when I’m descending through FL200. Of course, that’s wind/turbulence dependent.

It usually differs from airline to airline, but typically I do so around 10,000ft. This response is a great help, so check it out:

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i turn it off at cruise and turn it back on when i go under 15K feet


Really depends on personal preference as well.
If a SID is having many turns I will wait a bit longer, also if it is turbulent. Otherwise often about 6-7 minutes after takeoff.

On landing often shortly after descending or at 20000-28000 feet, especially on longer flights. On shorter flights sometimes a bit later (~15000-18000ft).

That’s pretty realistic in my experience, but may depend on the airlines and crews :)

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My preference is to turn it off at cruising, and then turn it back on when we start descending.

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I turn the seatbelt signs off after climbing through FL100, unless the SID/vector departure has multiple turns. I also turn it on during strong turbulence during cruise.

For arrivals, I turn the SB sign on immediately upon descent. As far as I could remember, Saudia pilots turn on seatbelt signs immediately upon the beginning of the descent roll, having flown with them almost 4 times annually for 19 years.

Obviously this is operator specific, as someome else mentioned, but here’s the procedure I use:

  • Turn on before push and/or start.
  • Turn off when passing 10,000 ft
  • Turn on when descending through 15,000 ft
  • Keep on until engines are seitched off.
  • Obviously keep on during any expected or encountered turbulence.

That’s good for short-medium haul. Typically, long haul do the same, except they usually turn it on on the beginning of the descent, apposed to passing 15,000ft.

Extra Realism!

Due to - you guessed it - COVID-19, the seatbelt sign should remain on for the entirety of the flight to minimise people hanging around waiting for the lavatory or whatever. Passengers who need to use the lavatory should bring it to the attention of the cabin crew. Obviously that bit doesn’t quite apply in IF, but I like to simulate it.

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That’s something few airlines do. Only heard about it on Ryanair (and honestly I feel as if this practice is absolutely against customers with little benefit to health but rather negative impacts (as walking around is super important, especially on long-haul flights)).

Ryanair doesn’t fly long hauls lol
And you are gonna go to the washroom at least once during a long haul anyways unless you just sleep through it.

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But 4-5h anyways at times.

True, but having to ask cabin crew is unnecessarily increasing contacts and just something that makes passengers uncomfortable in my opinion. Definitely not a fan of such a measure, which is something most airlines seem to agree with.

(If you want to exchange more on that topic, please send me a PM as we are getting off-topic).

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@JulianB yeah, sorry, this was supposed to apply to the entire post, not just the bullet points. But yeah, PM to continue :)

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No worries! Just wanted to clarify it’s the exception, not the rule :)

They should make the seatbelt and no smoking sign sound like this… where it has 2 different sounds… rather than 1 (1 for seatbelt and the other for no smoking)

From my experience as a flight attendant, the seatbelt sign is generally turned off once at cruising altitude. Passing thru 10,000 feet is when flight attendants are able to get out of their jumpseat, unless there is turbulence.


On MY armchair airline, I tend to switch on off at about 18000ft, wheather permitting!

I generally turn it off when I reach cruising altitude, but it depends, if it’s really choppy, I may leave on for a little bit

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